religion and spirituality

Webby Awards Cuts 'Religion' Category

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

The most coveted award for work on the Internet bestows honors in 231 categories, but “Religion & Spirituality” is no longer one of them.

A producer of the Webby Awards, now in its twentieth year, cited fewer submissions to the category.

“Unfortunately, entries in ‘Religion & Spirituality’ were decreasing each year,” Webby Award Produce Denise Gilley wrote to a past winner in the “Religion & Spirituality” category who had asked what had happened to it. The deadline for the 2016 contest is Dec. 18.

New Report Examines Beliefs of Asian-Americans

Church in Bangalore, India. Image via Komar / Shutterstock.com.

The most comprehensive study of religion and Asian-Americans to date finds them less religious than most Americans, but also far more religiously diverse.

Within that diversity, however, researchers discovered a wealth of spirituality.

“Asian-Americans are really a study in contrasts, with religious groups that are running the gamut from highly religious to highly secular,” said Cary Funk, lead researcher on  “Asian Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths,” released Thursday (June 19) by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Though a plurality of Asian-Americans are Christian, “it’s a striking difference” compared to the U.S. population in general, Funk said.

Michelle Obama Addresses Leaders at the African Methodist Episcopal Church Conference

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Michelle Obama, Win McNamee/Getty Images

Today, as President Obama followed the monumental decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act, his wife, Michelle Obama addresses an assembly of 30,000 leaders and laity at the African Methodist Episcopal Church Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. We're still waiting for the video to come, but meanwhile, browse through the transcript of her speech on faith, families, and what's next.

Young Adults: Forget Church, Follow Jesus

pathway image via Shutterstock
pathway image via Shutterstock

The teachings of the church are seen as devalued. This doesn’t have so much to do with the inherent importance or validity of what is being said, but rather it’s a reflection of the value of information overall. It’s really a matter of supply and demand. Abraham Lincoln probably wouldn’t have walked so far to get a book from the only area library, after all, if he had Wikipedia and Google Books at his fingertips. Most anything being said, taught or preached about in a church on Sunday can be found somewhere else, wherever and whenever we want it. Why wait?

The institutions have outlasted their original purpose. Most of our churches were built when populations were static. People didn’t divorce, change jobs and move around like they do now. This mobility, combined with the diversification of networking opportunities, online and through other means,  puts bricks-and-mortar institutions in an awkward spot of hoping people find them where they are. And much of the outreach efforts of church is still an attempt to get people “in the doors.” But the fact is that most young adults don’t particularly care.

'Why I Hate Religion, But Love YouTube'

Early this year I visited the Episcopal parish outside Chicago where my family and I used to worship before we moved to California a few years ago. About a dozen 12-to-14-year-olds gathered in a classroom used for daycare during the rest of the week. They pulled out cushions and gathered in a circle on the floor, falling over each other like puppies and talking nonstop.

The lead teacher began with prayer and then asked the kids to share about the previous week. For the better part of 45 minutes, the kids shared their triumphs and trials—a Spanish skit due in the morning that several were dreading, a classmate who was injured during a lacrosse game, a sick neighbor, a good grade on a science test, an upcoming three-day weekend, etc.

As each of the young teens shared, the others attempted to listen with care, but their boundless energy (and ample hormones) often erupted into a cacophony of asides, flirty joking, and epic fidgeting. It was exactly how you’d imagine an assemblage of a dozen junior highers might look and sound. Barely controlled chaos.

That is, until the teacher pulled out his laptop computer and described a video he was about to play called “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” The four-minute video was created by and features 22-year-old Jefferson Bethke, a spoken word artist, eloquently voicing his frustrations with organized religion. He says in part:

What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion? ... I mean, if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars? Why does it build huge churches but fails to feed the poor? ... See, the problem with religion is it never gets to the core. It’s just behavior modification, like a long list of chores ...

As the video began to play via YouTube on the teacher’s laptop, the room grew still. The kids were absolutely rapt. You could have heard a pin drop.

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